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Candlelight Wedding Chapel restored!

 

 

 

The Candlelight Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip

 

From the Las Vegas Sun:

It survived a tricky journey across town, required more than $250,000 in renovation, including a new steeple, scavenged furnishings and electrical rewiring.

But when you’re a 1966 wedding chapel — old by Las Vegas standards — and you have a few stories to tell, somebody’s bound to love you.

That’s pretty much how it unfolded for the Candlelight Wedding Chapel, a quaint, free-standing churchlike structure with steep roof lines that sat four decades on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Originally Little Church of the West Algiers and then All Religions Wedding Chapel, it was the first chapel with an 800 number and limo service. It married so many couples daily that a side door was installed to usher out fresh newlyweds so they wouldn’t bump into wedding parties making their formal procession down the aisle.

When its land was sold to the Fontainebleau project, the chapel sat empty until its former operator, Gordon Gust, scooped it up and gave it to the Clark County Museum.

On Saturday the chapel officially becomes a new exhibit on the museum’s Heritage Street and opens to the public with a party, complete with live music, wedding cake and photo ops for couples who were married at the chapel.

“It’s one of those things you don’t think of as history, but it’s important here,” says Mark Hall-Patton, administrator of the Clark County Museum. “Five percent of all marriages in the United States are held in Clark County. That’s one out of 20 marriages.”

Grants from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority and the Nevada Cultural Affairs Commission paid for the renovation, a project of the county’s 2009 Centennial celebration.

It arrived at the museum in 2007. Renovation began in May.

The Candlelight Wedding Chapel when it arrived at the Clark County Museum

 

The chapel is decorated to its latest incarnation (white), rather than its previous red exterior, paneled walls and red carpet. Its original pews and organ are gone and replaced with a piano and benches rescued from the county courthouse, resized and refinished.

Its large neon sign, which was added later, is across town at the Neon Museum.

Hall-Patton says museum staff had its eyes on the chapel for 10 years, identifying it as a building the museum would like to own if it ever became available. The museum is home to Heritage Street, a tree-lined gravel road hidden from Boulder Highway and flanked with rescued historic homes, a railroad depot and a print shop.

Visitors can sit on the wooden rocking chairs on the porch of the Beckley House and tour homes, each decked out to its era, each with its own nooks and crannies. They’re adorned at Christmastime and welcome trick-or-treaters on Halloween. (For Saturday’s party, the Clark County Museum Guild will serve cookies, with recipes specific to each home’s era.)

The railroad depot, taken to the site in 1976, was the first building to arrive. The oldest home is a railroad cottage (circa 1911-1914) awaiting renovation.

The chapel, inspired in design by the Little Church of the West, is its youngest structure. Celebrities married there include Bette Midler, Michael Caine, Whoopi Goldberg and Barry White.

“When we look at a building, we look at it from a standpoint that we could use it to best teach that part of our history,” he says. “In 1931 Nevada liberated both divorces and weddings. Reno got divorces. We became the wedding capital.”

Candlelight Wedding Chapel being restored

 

Special thanks to Joel Rosales at leavinglv.net and Allen Sandquist for letting us these images.

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Reader Comments (173)

How sad that this beautiful chapel is gone. We were married there Dec. 2, 1978, and have visited a few times since, but only just found out it's no longer on the Strip. It's nice that others also remember how lovely it was!
November 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean and Don
My wife and I were married here on May 6, 1985, 2nd go-around for both of us. Limo picked us up at the Sahara, took us downtown to buy the license, back to the chapel for the ceremony, then back in the limo for the ride back to the Sahara. 59 minutes, door-to-door! Some friends surprised us by coming to Vegas and standing up for us. Good times, we were saddened when we saw a spot on TV that it was to be torn down... glad to see it's been saved. BTW, we're still married!
December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark W
My husband and I were married here on December 28, 1998. I am so glad it is now recognized as part of Las Vegas history. Would love to make a return trip and have our picture taken in the Chapel because the only pics of our wedding didn't turn out because someone forgot to turn on the flash! LOL! It used to bother me a lot...but I can laugh about it now...another shot at a photo...if only I could still squeeze into that dress...I guess that what alterations are for... Give me a break...it's been 13 years and 2 cute kids later!!!
December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeitha Gamble
My husband Lito and I got married at Candlelight in January, 1982. We are planning to celebrate our 30 yrs. wedding anniversary this year and it would have been nice if we can renew our vows in the same chapel. We're glad the Chapel is being restored. Thanks Candlelight Chapel for being a part of our lives!
January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTess and Lito
I was married there in 1977 I remember it as a beautiful little chapel well that marriage didn't last but I'm glad the chapel did
January 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris
I got married at the Candlight Chapel on 2nd February 2003, after traveling from the Uk its a beauiful Chapel, would like to re-visit the place sometime.
January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie Mottram
My husband John and I were married at the chapel January 16 1993. I hate to say that your restoration is minus one brick. We were traveling with our family coming from California we decided to show our kids where we were married.We found that the chapel was being torn down and so we all crossed the construction fences and went in we were so sad to see the shape it was in. We now have a little piece of history in our china cabinet.We are planning a trip to Vegas soon and can't wait to see the restoration :D sorry for being a thief
January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTonny
Hey just delighted that chapel was saved we married here in July 2002 had a ball 3 kids later and planning return for 10 th anniversary later this year we will have to visit to pay a visit when we in town coming from Ireland
February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Sterry
married ther september 2002 good 2 c they didnot teak it down
February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteredwin
Got married there in on April Fool's Day 1993. Drove from Oakland, California. Was asked if we were married persons when we hit town. Not yet we answered and they handed us a brochure. Less than eight hours later we were. I thought it appropriate that our license says, "the Church of the Strip". Still together.
February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDamien Gossett
My husband and I were married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel on Sept. 1 1978 by Rev. Johnny Love. I can remember laughing when Rev. Love said his name during our wedding. We did get the tape recording at the time and we have listened to it several times. We will have our 34 Anniversary this year. We have had a wonderful life. So glad to hear that the Chapel has been restored. Hope it will continue for many more years.
February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sweetland's
Ingeborg and me were married in the Candlelight Wedding Chapel by Rev.Gilster II in August 7, 1993. We love each other and are happy together after more than 18 years. We are living in Graz/Austria, but we┬┤ll return to this amazing place! We are very happy, that this nice chapel has been restored!
February 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDr.Miran Drofenik
My husband and I were married 30 yrs ago (1982) in the chapel. For our anniversary we went to vegas intending to get pictures in front of the very chapel we were married at .. and so shocked when we saw it was gone!! I'm relieved to find out that it was restored and now at a museum, perhaps our next anniversary we can get that long over due picture.
March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna and Don Grant
Brian and I were married at the chapel on June 14, 2004. We saw the chapel on a drive by on the movie Dodgeball and bought the movie for memories sake. One question, all information states that it closed in 2003? How can this be. We are glad to know that we can now visit the chapel again for a future trip....
March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam
My husband and I were married there on April 19, 1988 at about 1am. Here we are, almost 24 years later and we are still together. We have been back to Vegas many time (family lives there now) and was bummed to see the chapel gone. We had always planned to renew our vows there for our 25th
March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoy
I WAS MARRIED @ THE Candlelight Wedding Chapel in 1988. WE NOW HAVE THREE DAUGHTERS AND A GRANDSON, 23 YEARS LATER. WE STILL LOVE TO SPEND OUR VACATION TIME IN VEGAS!WE WANT TO COME SEE THE Candlelight Wedding Chapel AND TAKE SOME PICTURES IN IT THIS YEAR.
March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm May
My husband and I were married here at Candlelight on April 6, 1979. Never divorced and never separated. Together for the duration of life. Am so glad they restored this lil chapel. When I drove by a year or so ago, it was undergoing construction in that area.
April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichele
My husband and I are fastly approaching Lucky number 13. We were married at the Candlelight Chapel April 11, 1999. I am so happy to see that I can revisit the chapel at the museum. Thank you to those of you who put all the money, and effort into restoring a wonderful memory for me.
April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa
My husband and I were married 14th April, 1979 (yes, the same day the Titanic was hit...different year.) We are celebrating #33, in two days. Fond memories of our wedding. Looking forward to visiting the chapel next time we are there. We have been back many times, to view the chapel, when it was on the strip! I would love to show it to my three grown daughter. Thank you SO MUCH for saving some an iconic building!!! Kathy and Ray
April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy
We were married in the Candlelight 10 July 2003 and plan to come back on our 10th anniversary next year. So very glad I checked the web as our first stop was going to visit the Candlelight - now we are going to head off to the museum - just a shame we won't be able to to re-new our vowels there. Thanks for looking after this wonderful place, And yes we are still very married and happy along with a beautiful daughter.
April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn and Susan

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